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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Scott
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:09 am

    For my money, it and The Snowmen are the two high points of the season.

    Now that's certainly interesting; much of the response to "The Snowmen" even among people who liked it seems to have been that it was 'good but not great'. I wouldn't say I'm one of them — personally I think it's quite undervalued, and perhaps the best Christmas episode of "Doctor Who" so far, even if it's flawed in some significant ways (but then, I might not be the best judge; most of the Christmas episodes have ultimately left me pretty unimpressed, and I'm a bit behind on the rest of the series so far so I can't say whether it's the high point) — but you're perhaps the first critic I've read thus far who's expressed this particular viewpoint.


  2. Anton B
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    Thank you for not spoiling. More to follow after I've watched it later tonight.


  3. Daru
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:23 am

    EEK! That hashing up of the Tomorrow People looks awful! I have fond UK childhood memories of the original show (never see it since) that have stayed with me.

    SO looking forward to episode tonight – though will most likely watch it on Sunday morning as my partner and I are out all night dancing at an alcohol-free club later on.

    Even though I live in a small village in the Scottish Borders, we do have a superb wee bookshop – so I am a total fan and lover of such places. Will support them.

    Well done on the KIckstarter Goals Phil! Got your message about keeping an eye on things for your book – so cheers for that.

    Really have loved the last couple of blog essays – really not had time to comment due to work commitment (Three jobs!) – but great stuff, thanks!


  4. goatie
    May 18, 2013 @ 1:53 am

    Doctor Who spoiler: his name is Robert Paulson.


  5. Nick Smale
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:13 am

    I'm expecting the mystery of the Doctor's name to have about the same role in the episode as campanology did in "The Bells of Saint John"…


  6. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:22 am

    Hmm… My opinion on "The Snowmen" is that if I were channel flipping and came across it, I would probably rewatch it if their were nothing better on. Which puts it in the top 3 Doctor Who Christmas specials and the top 1% of all Christmas specials of anything ever.

    I had a thought, Philip: You've mentioned a couple of times that it's tough doing the pop charts thing with weekly stories. Have you considered using box office charts instead? I've been using them for my own site, and they do generally change much faster than the pop charts.


  7. Lewis Christian
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:20 am

    It might also be interesting, for a bit more background info, to briefly summarise what else was airing on TV whilst Who was on.


  8. Bennett
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:18 am

    I adore The Snowmen, and am very happy to finally see some praise for it. I can understand why its occasionally saccharin taste didn't suit every fan's palate, but the sheer indifference towards it took me aback. As yuletide pleasures go, I find it almost unrivalled.

    The almost being Doctor Who's A Christmas Carol, which I would actually consider naming as my "Favourite Doctor Who Story"….along with about 12 others.


  9. goatie
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:32 am

    I expect to have a total cop-out in the form of some character performing an action "in the name of The Doctor."


  10. Daru
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:06 am

    Yes great to hear good comments for the Snowmen too. I really think that is an underrated episode.


  11. encyclops
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:07 am

    I like that idea. I think the pop charts start to become less relevant as the 2000s wind on.


  12. encyclops
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    Ohhhhh that Tomorrow People remake. No. I can't tell if it looks better or worse than the remake of The Prisoner, but at least the latter had Ian McKellen and Jamie Campbell Bower. Thanks for the warning!

    When I posted my just-before-the-finale season ranking for 7a and 7b, "The Snowmen" ended up at number 6, but it was in a dead heat for number 5. I'll be looking forward to your take on it.

    I'm not really in a love-Moffat or hate-Moffat camp. I usually enjoy his stories but they're rarely my favorites of the season. They're pretty reliably clever and fun, even if they're not always satisfying as such. So I'm even unspoiled for whether I'll like this or not, which is just how I like it.

    And now the radio silence begins.


  13. jane
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:29 am

    It's on my list for best of the season, too.

    I think one of the reasons it gets slagged is that it's mistakenly believed the story is resolved by The Power of Love. Which isn't really the case — it's resolved by The Power of Grief, and letting go.

    The One Word Game is stone-cold brilliant.


  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    I think if I even tried to spoil the BBC would have a Raston Warrior Robot deployed before I hit the post button. 🙂


  15. Daru
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:39 am

    I absolutely love it and Clara's character really holds it together well. And yes it is her death and the heartful, human responses to it that. allow the resolution. Touching. And wonderful dialogue throughout.


  16. Ununnilium
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    Is there such a thing as Youtube charts?


  17. Ununnilium
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:01 am

    Am I the only one who quite liked the '90s version of The Tomorrow People? Watching it as an American kid on Nickelodeon, it was fascinating.


  18. BatmanAoD
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    I liked Snowmen quite a bit until the whole lightning-zombie thing. And while I recognized that the resolution wasn't about "the power of love," I still thought it was tremendously silly.

    In any case: it's good, yes. But better than Hide? Better than Nightmare?


  19. Josh Marsfelder
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    Re: The Tomorrow People hey, at least it's on the same network that gave us Supernatural and its wholehearted embrace of the Tumblr gay slash fanfic demographic to the point it's written back into the text as major plot points. So there's hope there I guess.


  20. storiteller
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:53 am

    Looking back on the Tomorrow People post, I'm surprised you never wrote an entry on either the influence of Lewis Carroll or C.S. Lewis. I would have thought that those would be perfect entries, except for the fact that neither fits in chronologically with the series itself. Is there a chance we may have ones dealing with those in the future? I certainly see where you could talk about Lewis with The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, but there's all of the weird gender dynamics of that episode to deal with as well.


  21. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    I'm unlikely to give them direct posts at this point, but the sorts of things I'd say have been threaded through several posts – the Harry Potter one and the one immediately after The Daemons both spring to mind as saying much of what you probably want to read.


  22. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:48 am

    I like the charts, just because they provide a medial background that is almost inescapable. One can avoid seeing plenty of #1 movies, but it's tricky not to know at least one song from the top ten of a week you were alive just because you get assaulted with them in shops and restaurants.

    Also, I've come to realize I let myself get into a very bad habit in the wilderness years of writing those intros last, which made it so I couldn't transition out of them. I switched back to writing them first for the last two posts I've written (neither posted yet), and I think both entries benefitted from having a transition better than "while on television…" (Boom Town, in particular, would not have been nearly as good an entry had I not written the music/news section first.)


  23. Multiple Ducks
    May 18, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    For what it's worth, reading this blog has actually made me more interested in pop music, for better or for worse. Also yes, Ununnilium, Youtube does have music charts, but they only started in May 2011, so we'll have a few years to go before they can be used.

    I personally would prefer if we stuck with the UK top 40 singles chart, since it serves as a reminder that both it an Doctor Who into being rooted in the same collective conciousness as defined by Geography, which seems appropriate for this blog.

    Though the Youtube charts, since they are based on views rather than sales and radio play, do have a tendency to spike in directions impossible on other charts, and seem to be gaining sway over more mainstream charts. Also PSY's 'Gangnam Style' hasn't left the top ten since it came out in late July, so if variation is what you're after you might be left at a bit of a loss in that regard.


  24. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 10:19 am

    I expect that the story will in some way turn on his name, but we the audience will not learn his name, but we will learn some other surprising thing about him.


  25. Forrest Leeson
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    "…spoilers are allowed in the thread here…"

    Reading Twitter I see: "some people thought that john hurt was the name of the doctor".

    Actually, in terms of fourth-wall-breaking meta that's actually a pretty good answer to "Doctor Who?", tying both into the notion of (was it actually Asclepius?) the mystical physician whose power to heal is derived from his own injury and the St John's Ambulance logo: it's his ambulance, he's the patient — and as Moffat hinted back around series 5: "I'm my own Doctor."


  26. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    In keeping with the theme this blog has started to take on of the Eccleston run being Davies taking bad Old Series episodes and doing them right, I strongly suspect that the 50th is going to be the Valeyard done right, starring John Hurt as the Valeyard.

    I'll need to think more on the episode to say anything in depth, but… let it never be said I do not admit when I was wrong. You are forgiven, Moffat. This was glorious, and I heartily approve.

    Interestingly for the "Other Space" theory we were talking about in the previous thread, it now seems the Great Intelligence comes from there, too.


  27. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Also, how gorgeous is it that the Second Doctor showed up in a badly and unnecessarily CSO'd shot of the modern day?


  28. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    Okay, first thing: I've seen several people on Facebook and TVTropes complaining that this episode didn't reveal the name of the Doctor. Rubbish, it did. It revealed that the Doctor's name is the Doctor–"the names we choose," as he says. What it didn't reveal was the Doctor's birth name–but it did state, fairly definitively, that his birth name isn't actually that important and isn't the secret he's been hiding–the actions of the John Hurt incarnation are. Which, as I said, I'm guessing is the Valeyard.


  29. Anton B
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

    They would indeed. Well! I've watched it now and am completely blown away. I'm probably going to watch it again tonight before I can comment but that really made sense of a lot of the season. Fantastic! (In EVERY sense of that word).


  30. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    So yeah. I heard about this Tomorrow People reimagine a few months back and I have not been able to really adapt my mind around it. And I like the original. This sort of reeks of "Yet another CW show about Attractive Young People Who Are Magically Better Than You."

    On the one hand, there is some interesting stuff in the concept that you can make into good storytelling if you choose to instead of going the original series route of "So we just use stun guns instead, and made our parents promise not to tell anyone.", like the whole "unable to kill" thing (I gather that one of the big dealies in this thing is that one of the lead characters is a guy who got into a lot of fights before coming into his powers, who now has to deal with being unable to use violence to solve things) or the "Hunted and feared by the rest of humanity" thing. But I suspect trying to make it actually work as modern young-adult drama is going to completely cancel out anythign that made the original show charming or distinctive. This is just going to be Roswell but more CW'd. (This, by the way, is why I'm also leery when anyone talks of remaking Blake's 7. Sure, I'd love ot have a New Blake's 7 Experience, but if you tried to do "It's a grittier space drama where the characters are all criminals and the government is evil and the crew doesn't get along" today, you'd end up stripping out everything that made the show distinctive, and just making Firefly or Farscape again)


  31. Anton B
    May 18, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Yes the Great Intelligence is the most likely of the Classic series antagonists to come from Other Space. After all he's intangible and invisible unless posessing another's physical body thus conforming nicely to a High Fantasy trope. Even the Faux Victorian Undertaker look seen in the Whisper Men echoes certain descriptions of faery types, the 'Kindly Ones' etc.

    Now that Richard E Grant has entered the Doctor's time stream is that a way to retcon his alternate Ninth Doctor into continuity?

    I loved the 'conference call' sequences. It reminded me of both Morrison's 'The Invisibles' and Alan Moore's 'Johnny Future' strip in ABC Comics.

    All the talk of echoes and reflections in this episode is gonna keep us in deep readings for some time I think.


  32. elvwood
    May 18, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

    Mixed reactions to the episode here. My children and I loved it, but my wife – who is a more casual viewer – tuned out, because she got lost in all the references to past episodes. As a result she didn't enjoy it at all.

    We interrogated her to find out why, and it was basically because (a) she'd forgotten various details, such as what happened to River Song way back in Forest of the Dead or what had happened at the wedding; (b) hadn't seen The Rings of Akhaten so didn't know what the leaf meant; and (c) thought it was all getting a bit irrelevant anyway.

    She has enjoyed some of series 7b – The Snowmen, Hide and The Crimson Horror – but hasn't really had any desire to seek out the ones she missed because of her shifts. She did say she wouldn't bother watching it any more if it weren't for us.


  33. goatie
    May 18, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    One thing I don't expect is the Spanish Inquisition.


  34. Dan
    May 18, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

    I can barely remember all the details myself. But then I'm an in-betweener and it's Steven Moffat. Dr Who has become like a complex, good graphic novel (maybe retconning into becoming the steampunk grandaddy of graphic novels), which you can pick up a later issue of and still enjoy without necessarily knowing everything that has happened.

    It would be psychologically challenging for most people to be au fait with all the twists and turns of the River Song plot. Perhaps all that's required not to feel left out is a sense that that's acceptable?


  35. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:00 pm

    I don't utterly hate it, but I think that it drifted way too far into the American tradition of "Kids show where the adults are so cartoonishly moronic everyone over the age of 17 seems to have brain damage." The parts that focused on the kids themselves were fine, but every serial felt too much like an unfunny version of that classic series one where Peter Davison played an inbred space-redneck.


  36. Bennett
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

    Whether it's "better" or not I couldn't say, but I do prefer it to Hide and Nightmare. Now I just need to decide whether I prefer it to Name


  37. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    Anyone else knocked off-kilter by the fact that the Doctor explicitly says that John Hurt isn't "The Doctor", and the very next thing that happens is that the fourth wall comes crashing down the credits step out on top of the show and say "Oh yes he is"?

    And are we meant to conclude that the reason that the character played by Richard E Grant bears so little resemblance to the character from two Troughton-era serials is that, like the other Clara/Oswin Oswalds, he pops up occasionally in the Doctor's timeline as different bakings of the same recipe?

    And… The inexplicable Dragonfire cliffhanger where for no apparent reason, the Doctor climbs over the rail and almost falls off the cliff? Turns out it was The Intelligence's fault. In fact, every stupid, nonsensical cliffhanger in the classic series, we can blame it all on The Great Intelligence now. It all makes sense. (Just like The Plot Hole from 'To Boldly Flee'. yay)


  38. Bennett
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

    Froborr – Okay, first thing: I've seen several people on Facebook and TVTropes complaining that this episode didn't reveal the name of the Doctor.

    The number of misunderstandings surrounding the revelations of this episode really illuminates the "post first, think later" mentality of the Internet.

    The one which perplexes me most is the claim that the 11th Doctor should really be called the 12th. Perhaps they were already posting their comments during the dialogue which basically said "Yes, he's still the 11th Doctor, because the Hurt regeneration isn't called The Doctor. You don't need to correct your spreadsheets!"


  39. Bennett
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    Anyone else knocked off-kilter by the fact that the Doctor explicitly says that John Hurt isn't "The Doctor", and the very next thing that happens is that the fourth wall comes crashing down the credits step out on top of the show and say "Oh yes he is"?

    Damn. Didn't think of that before I posted. 🙂


  40. Triturus
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

    Wow. I thought that episode was outstanding. It did everything right in terms of being epic, calling back to the past, and being bold about taking Dr Who into places it hasn't been before.

    Also, my mrs (a non-Dr Who geek) loved it as much as I did, and we both got something in our eyes at the River Song bits, and were doing a proper OMG at Hurt.

    Gah, I know I sound like a fanboi, but that was rather marvellous. I'm proper chuffed, me.


  41. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    In fact, every stupid, nonsensical cliffhanger in the classic series, we can blame it all on The Great Intelligence now. It all makes sense.

    And every absurdly quick, easy resolution, we can blame on Clara!


  42. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    There's one other thing about the Hurt "Doctor" that occurs to me, and it's this:

    It's actually a callback. To "The Beast Below":

    Look, three options. One, I let the Star Whale continue in unendurable agony for hundreds more years. Two, I kill everyone on this ship. Three, I murder a beautiful, innocent creature as painlessly as I can. And then I find a new name, because I won't be the Doctor any more.

    It is going to be a long six months.


  43. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 3:44 pm

    Totally unrelated to today's episodes, but I finally figured out how to listen to the Big Finish audios without getting distracted and losing the thread of what's going on, which is to do it while walking. I just finished The Marion Conspiracy, and holy cheese, Evelyn might be favorite companion already, and is definitely in the top three.


  44. Jesse
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    I find the literalization of the Doctor's place at the center of the show's universe is not to my taste. I get it, I understand the point that's being made, but it makes me like the show less every time we see a variation on, "Without the Doctor, the entire universe falls to pieces."

    How is this not as fannish and self-involved as the very worst "cult sci-fi" our blog host has been contrasting the show with? Isn't this like the old run of Davison/C. Baker continuity-nod episodes that was basically just the show crawling up its own ass?

    (Longtime lurker, love the blog, not at all a fan of today's episode.)


  45. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    In the main, because there's nothing in the episode that's going to be opaque to someone who has only ever watched episodes from this era. The longest standing bit of continuity that any comprehension of what was going on depended on was River. Beyond that it didn't even reach further back than Christmas in terms of essential knowledge.

    Compare that to Arc of Infinity, which expects you to just know off-hand who Omega, who hadn't appeared in a decade, was. Or Attack of the Cybermen, which required knowledge of missing episodes to make sense of the plot.

    That's the difference.


  46. Pen Name Pending
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

    Well, I'm a bit breathless now.

    I started to really worry that there was a regeneration coming. And that he would actually say his name and it would be ordinary. But I really like what happened better than what I was predicting would happen. I had a feeling Clara would sacrifice herself, and glad she did. Loved the glimpses of past Doctors, and the notion that a name is who you are.


  47. Pen Name Pending
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    I think it's less of the Doctor being the center of the universe, but rather the idea of Doctor's importance in helping people.

    The Doctor is such a mythic person. We get offhand references to offscreen adventures all the time, his age is generic, and he can practically live forever. There is no finite number of things the Doctor has done or will ever do.


  48. J Mairs
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

    That's a very good point Ross – I'd forgotten about that.

    What also frustrates me is the assumption all across the webs that this is an inbetween Doctor between Eight and Nine which seems just about the dullest interpretation of the evidence as well as contradicting quite a bit of other hints about the Doctor's secret.

    Until I get further evidence, I'm going to keep referring him as the 0th Doctor!


  49. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    The idea that this Doctor committed an atrocity during the time war and that is why the others reject him seems like a good slot for him to go into (Especially as it's hard to really imagine any of the dominant interpretations of the eight doctor having Pushed The Button), but that would require holding on to the notion that the Doctor rejects having done it, when it's been fairly consistent that while he might regret the outcome of the time war, he isn't trying to deny his own agency in it.


  50. Pen Name Pending
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    Ross: A month or so ago I watched that again and that line stuck out. Now I understand why…

    About the Valeyard stuff: But didn't the Great Intelligence mention the Valeyard earlier in the episode as something the Doctor would confront in the future? So are we going with the Hurt Doctor being "the Valeyard done right" rather than "actually the Valeyard"?


  51. Jesse
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    I'm pretty sure "Turn Left" marks the outer edge of my comfort with this idea. "Things are crappy without the Doctor" I can live with. When the stars literally begin to go out because there is/was no Doctor, I check out. It's too much.


  52. Pen Name Pending
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    The thing is, River explains to Clara what happened to her in "Forest of the Dead". As for the other callbacks like from "Akhaten", "Journey", and "Asylum" – it is the series finale. It's supposed to pay off the preceeding episode of the series. In any show, it's not really the place for casual fans.


  53. James V
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

    I'm calling him 'The Elephant Doctor'


  54. Alphapenguin
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    CLARA: "So, how do we get down there? Jump?"
    THE DOCTOR: "Don't be silly! We fall."

    Might this have been the Fall of the Eleventh?


  55. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

    Um… but the stars literally WOULD have gone out without the Doctor. Davros? Daleks? Reality bomb?


  56. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    I remember with some fondness when Planet of Evil came out on VHS, and Doctor Who Magazine tried to figure the number of stories in which the entire universe was in danger. They got half a dozen or so, but I'm tired and can only remember Planet of Evil, Logopolis, and Terminus right now.


  57. Jesse
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:35 pm


    The show is allowed to ignore that kind of consistency when it wants to, and it routinely does. When I said Turn Left marked the outer edge of my comfort zone, I didn't mean to imply it sat squarely within it. 🙂


  58. Assad K
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    Loved it.
    Loved it, loved it, loved it.
    Which is frankly unusual for me and Dr Who season finales…


  59. Jesse
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

    My objection is not to the universe being placed in danger. The Master can blow part of it up in Logopolis- that just means he's absurdly overpowered. But what bothers me is the strong implication that the Universe's very existence always has and always will depend on the main character. It's all very true in one sense- there's no show without the Doctor- but it takes all the fun out of it. For me.


  60. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

    Well, but the point is, if you have a show where the main character routinely saves the entire universe, then it follows that making him never have existed is a threat to the entire universe. Logically speaking, there's not really a way around that.


  61. Elizabeth Sandifer
    May 18, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

    I think Jesse's point is more that it doesn't have to be the focus of the show. They could just have easily have cut to an Earth in which forty separate alien invasion fleets are squabbling over whose planet it is, none of them having been stopped. Or anything else. I mean, the stars going out frankly paled in terms of Strax going evil and Jenny disappearing in terms of basic impact.

    But I'll stop there, as I'm actually treading terribly close to a substantial point from the Boom Town post.


  62. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    My sister just informed me of my three-year-old niece's verdict on the episode: "It was good, but I liked the Tuna Cybermen better."

    After some initial confusion, it became clear she was talking about Tomb of the Cybermen, which she has decided is her favorite story.


  63. bbqplatypus318
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    My final verdict on this half series, both now and in the future, absolutely hinged on this episode. This has always been the case in the Moffat era – certainly more than it ever was under Davies. The fact that the last episode-and-a-quarter of "Last of the Time Lords" mostly sucks doesn't retroactively ruin the run of good-to-great episodes in Series 3, for instance. However, the fact that both the finales of series 6 are terrible only accentuated the flaws of the episodes around it. If the answer to the mystery of the Doctor's name (or, more importantly, of Clara) turned out to be a nothingburger, the rancid aftertaste would have irrevocably tainted a series that had already varied wildly in quality to begin with.

    Quite fortunate, then, that this episode served as a perfectly satisfying conclusion. It may be the best series finale since the show returned. Despite being complicated and almost certainly containing at least one plot hole I didn't pick up on, it held together in a way that made emotional and structural sense. It was also funny, moving, and tense in all the ways a big finale should be.

    And as far as big secrets go, "There's another version of me that nobody knows about who did something bad and looks remarkably like Academy Award-nominated actor John Hurt" is a damn good one. So I am by no means let down by the fact that we don't learn what the Doctor's "real" name "is." (I am therefore able to continue to believe that it's something that sounds very much like "Doctor Who").


  64. Josiah Rowe
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

    This is marvelous, and from now on I'm going to refer to the Cybermen from that story as the Tuna Cybermen.

    (Oh, and as one of the 210 Americans who received the story early: you're welcome.)


  65. jane
    May 18, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    Visiting family — the reaction here was mixed. My mother was horrified by the Hurt reveal — "he's too told to be the Doctor," she says, and is worried the show will lose all its young viewers who won't want to watch an Old Doctor. This outburst, unfortunately, may have influenced my nephews' reactions. They loved the story otherwise.

    Me, I love it. Not sure I fully get it all — there's a lot to unpack here — but I love it.


  66. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

    Ah, okay. That's a rather more sensible point than what I thought you were saying. I don't necessarily agree that the stars going out was a bad thing, but I understand where you're coming from now.


  67. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    See, the thing with that tradition is that, between the Spock method, the "latchkey kids," the American tendency to valorize and excuse bullies, and the general self-centeredness of the Baby Boomers, there's a couple of generations of American kids whose experience growing up really was that adults were basically useless. Entertainment for kids written by members of those generations tends to reflect that experience as being part of what childhood is like.


  68. Unknown
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    Before anyone criticises the new Tommorow People I think they should be compelled to watch the original. Sure, it had some great ideas, but the acting was often dreadful and the sets and effects made Who of the period look like a multi-million dollar epic.


  69. Jesse Smith
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

    I find myself frustrated and disappointed with the arc of Steven Moffat's writing career. After such tightly plotted gems as "The Empty Child" and "Blink" it's difficult to watch how he relies pretty much entirely on spectacle and big concepts, without any attention or care seemingly given to "fridge logic" anymore. It doesn't even seem to tie in to his previous big important concepts anymore. It's as if (and I strongly suspect this to be true) that he has no real multistory or multiseries outline, but just adds in provocative teasers like "Doctor who?" and then spends the next summer figuring out where to go from there.

    I'm surprised nobody here has commented on the sloppiness of the "timey wimey" notions tonight. In my opinion, time travel fiction can either go with the "Bill & Ted" theory where effects can come before causes, or a more traditional model where until the cause occurs, the effect does not. You can pick either, but you shouldn't mix them both.

    In this one, the Great Intelligence enters the Doctor's "temporal scar", causing his actions to be erased, and entire stars vanish, Jenny gets erased, Strax was never reformed, etc. But until he did that, everything was fine.

    But we have already seen three "echoes" of Clara, prior to her creating the cause of those echoes by entering the scar. I think this is a real problem, and it underlines the casual glibness that Moffat seems to be writing with these days.

    And it is a disappointment to me, because Moffat was probably my favorite of all the regular writers, up until perhaps "The Impossible Astronaut", where it all started to get a bit wobbly. And Matt Smith is my favorite of the new series Doctors, and I am enjoying his portrayal in this Series 7B more than ever. I just wish I was enjoying the overall story of his Doctor better.


  70. Nicholas Tosoni
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    This just in: You can tune a piano, but you can't Tuna Cyberman.


  71. bbqplatypus318
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

    This basically sums up my feelings on Series 6. And yet, for reasons I can't really explain, this episode doesn't bother me. Part of this may be that I didn't notice this until you pointed it out. Another part of this is that I rank "plot holes" pretty far down my "reasons to not enjoy something" list. Generally, they only bother me when they are so egregious that they can't be ignored, to the extent that they threaten the show's EMOTIONAL coherence (or "the appearance of coherence," to borrow one of Phil's lines). And (again, for reasons I can't properly articulate) I don't think this episode did.


  72. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    That's an interesting point, but the kids-show trend seems less like "parents are negligent and self-absorbed" and more like "adults are all Doctor Claw's henchmen." Like, your typical original-series setup with a human villain was typically something like "Militants engage in cold-war intrigue using a bit of Bond Villain-type vaguely sciency bullshit." The typical New Tomorrow People plot was "A scientist really likes mosquitoes, and therefore bred super-mosquitos to take over the world."

    What I'm getting at is that the villanry is less Davros and more Cobra Commander. I'm okay with kids shows where parents are simply absent, or even present-but-hilariously-oblivious. But there's a very american thing in kids shows to portray both the good and the evil adult characters as simply a complete joke.

    That's the reason I liked The Sarah Jane Adventures so much; it's been a long time since I'd seen a contemporary children's program where the characters were written as something that even vaguely resembled actual human beings.


  73. Jesse Smith
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

    The problem with emotional coherence is that it requires emotional investment into the characters. I really like the modern character-driven take on Doctor Who. "Father's Day" is one of my favorites, as in "The Girl Who Waited", etc. But I don't feel that we've been given enough time with Clara for me to really care about her. We meet two versions of her that are killed off, and then the third version has been significantly underwritten this half-season, with several of the episodes writing her purely as "generic companion". I just don't care about her the way I cared about Rose or Amy. And the minor characters like Jenny strike me as caricatures more than characters, and I find myself unable to really care much about Jenny being killed and quickly resurrected (twice!).

    It might have been different if we had a full series to get to know Clara, with episodes that were able to really draw a distinct character, but sadly I think she is the most generic companion of the revived season, when according to the needs of the story she ought to be the most deeply written one.


  74. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

    So, I'm confused — did the ending mean that Adric KILLED Clara, or that Adric WAS Clara?


  75. Sean Daugherty
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

    No, I think you've misread that completely. It clearly means that Clara is the Terrible Zodin.


  76. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    Seriously, I am incapacitated for several minutes whenever someone says something that boils down to "But time travel doesn't work like that!" and assumes that all time travel stories must follow either Bill and Ted rules or Back to the Future rules.

    Once you have time travel, all bets are off. The basis of all human logic is that causality only happens in one temporal direction. Once you throw that out, you have to start over again at square one and completely reinvent logic.

    It has been one of the only consistent trends in how time travel is treated in this show that the rules of temporal causality are really complicated and that the specific details of the situation can affect how the rules apply in massively unexpected ways.

    Look at it this way, if you like: the span between The Inteligence jumping into the scar and Clara jumping into the scar is when causality is in flux. The universe is in a superposition between two possible states. That superposition can collapse into the "Intelligence wins, universe hosed" configuration or into the "The Doctor's past continues to be the one we've always seen — one in which Clara was always present, unnoticed, at various points in his life"


  77. Jesse Smith
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

    Well, I disagree. I think you should pick one. If the Doctor being erased from history means that Jenny vanishes and Strax is a meanie, then Clara should also vanish because the Doctor saved her from the Wi-Fi villains.

    I'm not saying "time travel doesn't work like that". I'm perfectly willing to suspend disbelief for pretty much any concept of time travel. But it has to have an internal logic. "Blink" was a masterpiece because it picked a specific model of temporal causality and made everything follow that logic tightly. This one just seemed to go with whatever sounded exciting, without worrying about whether it contradicted other things that were onscreen at the same time.

    Perhaps it will grow on me when I watch it again. But for me personally, I have been terribly disappointed in the "arc" episodes ever since Series 6.


  78. Matthew Blanchette
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

    His name is John Hurt; we were even introduced to him…


  79. Matthew Blanchette
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    And "no living creature" says his name… because the ghost of River Song says it.


  80. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

    Well, the other thing is that I disagree that it lacked internal logic. I thought the internal logic was fine. First the stars start going out. Then Jenny vanishes. Then Strax turns evil. Another few minutes and Clara would have vanished. We've already met the other two Claras because there is no universe in which they aren't there but the show still exists. Your choices are "The Doctor has a past with Claras in it" or "The Doctor dies at every point in his life and the entire universe got destroyed like five times." There is no coherent universe where The Doctor went about having his adventures in the show we all remember, but there was no Clara scattered through his timeline, because no such version of the universe ever existed: Only those two kinds of universe are consistent, so those are the ways the superposition can collapse.


  81. Matthew Blanchette
    May 18, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

    I'm mixed.


  82. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

    I agree with Pen; I think the mention of the Valeyard as being future, whereas Doctor Hurt (now that sounds like a Batman villain!) seems to be past, was a deliberate hint that they're not the same. I doubt he's even merely like the Valeyard, since we've already had the Dream Lord. The vibe I picked up was that he was a sympathetic character who did one terrible thing for good-ish motives, but that he wouldn't be playing a villain role.


  83. Jesse
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

    "People assume that time is a strict linear progression of cause to effect…"

    The "internal logic" of this version of time travel is that Strax is a meanie and Jenny disappears but Clara doesn't. It obviously works like that. We saw it work like that. Somewhere in the Doctor's vast store of knowledge is some system of gnarly partial differential equations that explains it. 🙂 Would some verbal attempt at a parody of rigor really have made you feel better about the episode?


  84. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    I don't necessarily agree that the stars going out was a bad thing

    Sounds a bit callous out of context.


  85. Ross
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

    The more I think about it, the more sense "The Zeroth Doctor" makes. That he could be the Not-Yet-The-Doctor who did whatever it was that caused the Doctor to forsake his own name and become 'The Doctor' and steal a TARDIS and run off in the first place. (Terrible theory: They've decided to go back and do the "Son of Doctor Who" storyline that's been referenced in every Doctor Who history book, and reveal that the Not-Yet-The-Doctor had an evil son, who the Doctor killed "for peace", prompting him to kidnap his now-orphaned granddaughter and change his name.)

    Of course, if you thought "He's gonna tell the doctor's name" got the Fans upset, "He's gonna tell us the circumstances of the first Doctor's departure" will cause rage visible from space.


  86. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    There's another version of me that nobody knows about who did something bad and looks remarkably like Academy Award-nominated actor John Hurt

    The bad thing he did was lean over that egg and peer into it as it was opening, instead of keeping his distance, or better yet, getting the hell out of that spaceship. He's responsible for all the deaths that followed. Plus he was a meanie when he was High Chancellor of Britain.


  87. BerserkRL
    May 18, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    Or perhaps the Terribles' Odin.


  88. T. Hartwell
    May 18, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

    The one-word game and the staircase to the clouds were what sold me on the episode. I prefer Name and Nightmare, but Snowmen was brilliant as well.


  89. T. Hartwell
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

    "1% of all Christmas specials of anything ever."

    Speaking as a massive fan of the Rankin-Bass specials, this comment makes me sad.


  90. Alan
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

    Maybe, maybe not on that comment about Supernatural. Jensen Ackles visible discomfort with gay slash fanfic (and especially RPS fanfic) is on the verge of becoming a PR controversy. And to be honest, I'm not sure I blame him.


  91. Alan
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

    Is there anything about The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe that is suggestive of C.S. Lewis other than the name?


  92. Alan
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

    The Hurt-Doctor (what a lovely neologism) could be a past or future (Valyard) Doctor. The wound-rift represents the entire span of the Doctor's life, including the post-Eleven future. Obviously, Eleven recognizes himself somehow, but Eleven, at that point, had also merged with his entire timeline and presumably would have some timey-wimey knowledge of his own future, including some insight into any future version who betrays his principles and is no longer worthy of the name "Doctor."


  93. encyclops
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    I'm gonna wait to read all the comments on this page until I've seen the episode twice and written my own review, but I liked it a lot.

    I watched that first 30 seconds three times before I could go on. Then once the title sequence started, I went back and watched the whole thing up to the title sequence again before I could go on.

    I've never thought of myself as being big into fanservice, but my heart was going nuts.


  94. Alan
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

    My only real complaint is that Moffat is bizarrely obsessed with the ontological paradox. First, River's entire life only came to pass because she killed herself to save Ten at the Library. (Not to mention the fact that she was named after herself.) Then, we have "The Big Bang," which involves the Doctor freeing himself from the Pandorica by remembering to go back in time from a point after he has already been freed to unlock the Pandorica from the outside. Now we have Clara, whom the Doctor only sought out after she saved his life twice … and then her carried her to Tranzalore so she could go back in time and save his life a bunch of times including the only two he specifically remembers. As I've said before, Moffat's biggest weakness is that he's an Ascended Fanboy and likes to write the sort of overcomplicated fanfiction-ish stories that a clever post-adolescent who was overly fascinated with time travel would write. In many ways, he's a superior Ian Levine (and I mean that in a good way).


  95. J Mairs
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

    I don't think we actually need to find out what the Zeroth Doctor did for it to work – all we need is hints about what makes him rejected by the Doctor.

    Plus there's the fact that the Doctor's secret is one "he's been running from all his lives" – suggesting an earlier placing than 8/9.

    If anything, Zeroth works well by not messing up the All-Important numbering, and identifies him, regardless of the placing as a zero [rather than a hero]

    In other subtle but important continuity moments, when he was leaving Gallifrey, he was addressed by Clara as "Doctor" – and his reaction suggests that he was already using this alias before he left, so he didn't pick this up on his travels like previous theories suggest.


  96. Alan
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

    Now that you mention, I think the strangest thing about the episode is the fact that time-splintered Clara had the run of Gallifrey at a time when it still existed. Not only did she advise One on which TARDIS to steal, she also assisted Five while he was being useless in Arc of Infinity. Also, is it just me, or did we only see the old Doctors in their lamest adventures. The Five Doctors, Arc of Infinity, the absolute worst moment of Dragonfire. I still haven't figured out where the Tom Baker scene was from. Has anybody else?


  97. Wm Keith
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

    Well, it's obvious to me that this John Hurt reveal is prefigured by that scene in The Five Doctors. Pertwee is in The Dead Zone, he knows his other selves are there too, and he half-recognises a bearded figure. "Jehoshaphat, is that you?" But, no, it's The Master.

    Now, because of the "all teeth and curls" comment (information which clearly came from Clara), we can't be absolutely certain that John Hurt\Jehoshaphat is the Series 6A Doctor, given a new face by the Time Lords and sent without choice to carry out their dirty work in the name of peace and sanity. But Who else could he be?


  98. Froborr
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

    Gender essentialism?

    A box that leads to a wintry forest and adventure?


  99. Charles Knight
    May 18, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

    I don't really understand how people are getting any signal that Hurt is a future doctor? The way the scene is set up it's clearly intended to convey that those are past Doctors?


  100. Froborr
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:00 am

    "I ran, of course. Never stopped."

    The Doctor could have seen his future self looking in the Untempered Schism as a child, and thus been running from it all his life even though it hadn't happened yet.


  101. Jason
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:07 am

    I'd say I'm "mixed" too, but that implies at least partial dissapointment. Truth is: I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, without thinking it was absolutely fabulous or loving it to bits. I mean, I agree that the Great Intelligence was underused, and in that respect I couldn't really buy that kidnapping Vastra & co could get the Doctor to go visit the Number One Most Paradoxical Place for him to visit. (I mean, the paradoxes kept him from going back to 1930s Jersey and taking the train to "save" Amy and Rory, but he'll do this for sporadically recurring characters?) I also scratched my head a bit at the internal time-travel/time-rewriting logic (which seems to be: time gets rewritten when and only when it makes the story go right, otherwise it's Novikov self-consistent), and thought the half-series emotional arc would have been better with a more developed Clara. (Perhaps the half-series just needed to be a full series.)

    Still: It was a fun ride, with a large number of satisfying beats (including the River story, which surprised me since I'm not a huge River fan) and a helluva show-level cliffhanger at the end. It was no Big Bang; but it was no Wedding of River Song, either, and I can't get into the mindset of thinking that, because it could have been awesomer, it wasn't, in fact, awesome enough.


  102. Froborr
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:15 am

    Well, like we were saying above, the implication is that every lame cliffhanger out of nowhere and cruddy serial was the result of the Great Intelligence's meddling, and every abrupt or silly cliffhanger resolution was the result of Clara's meddling. So it makes sense both of them would show up in the subpar serials.


  103. Froborr
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    So, thinking about it further, and having watched it again, and certain scenes two or three times on top of that… this is the best finale the New Series has ever had. Maybe the best finale Doctor who has ever had. (Not the best finale of anything ever, though; finales have never been Doctor Who's strong suit.)

    I understand the complaints some people have made about consistency, but as I said on "Father's Day": It's a paradox. Causality and logic are broken now; it should be inconsistent and nonsensical!

    Basically, I just thought this was wonderful, and a gloriously literal narrative collapse for the Doctor.


  104. Froborr
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:29 am

    Saving Amy and Rory would require massive paradox and the Doctor knew their life together was long and happy. Really, the only person hurt by their stranding is the Doctor himself. Low stakes, especially if you tend to put others first like the Doctor, high cost, not worth it.

    Saving the Paternosters would risk massive paradox (but he might be able to avoid it–certainly he tries to throughout the second half of the episode)–to save them from a likely gruesome and painful death at the hands of a mad, sadistic monster. High stakes, high risk. Potentially worth it, especially if you have a lot of confidence.


  105. Jason
    May 19, 2013 @ 1:20 am

    I'm not saying it makes no sense from the Doctor's point of view: it's clear to the audience that he'd risk it for Amy and Rory (if he could), and we're told that he has a similarly deep relationship with the Paternosters ("they helped me through the dark times"). My complaint is that we as audience never really get to experience that relationship: we don't see much that really sets these characters apart emotionally from, say, Jack Harkness. So even if the the Doctor's motivations make sense from his point of view, they never really resonate with the audience (or, at least, this audience member).

    (I also never got the "rescuing Amy and Rory would be a paradox!" (I can see why taking the Tardis to 1930s NYC might be a problem, but there are plenty of ways around that.) As someone who thinks about temporal paradoxes (among other things) for a living, that particular claim looked more like a semantic stopsign — a "here be dragns" for narrative convenience — than anything else. But that's an entirely different issue…)


  106. David Anderson
    May 19, 2013 @ 4:14 am

    I assume that the paradox centres, not on 1930s New York, but on Rory.


  107. Daru
    May 19, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    I watched the episode last night with my partner about 2am after being out dancin all night and we both loved it!

    Just re-watched it again now with her and we both loved it even more – for me the best New Series finale (agree with you Froborr above). Narratively I am very happy with paradoxes having their own logic and this episode works in so many ways for me – seeing the other Doctors, the utter deliciousness of John Hurt's mystery figure, the GI representing all the nigglers and pickers dropping in pointless cliffhangers, Clara who is us loving the show saving the Doctor at every turn (but unseen), Clara herself being 'saved' by the stories of the Doctor representing the good-hearted message of the show that can reach out to us. Utter joy.


  108. JohnB
    May 19, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    The 'paradox' of why the Doctor cannot visit/ever see Rory and Amy again isn't really a paradox.

    Once the Doctor reads the final page of Amy's book, he knows he never saw them again.

    Time can be rewritten: History cannot.

    The episode explicitly states this is true!



  109. Matthew Blanchette
    May 19, 2013 @ 8:54 am

    I did really like it, up until that last reveal… because I'm guessing we only got Hurt-Doctor because Eccleston refused to come back and because McGann probably wasn't approached.

    A-/B+ for me. I loved the River scenes… but the Paternoster Gang was kind of left unresolved. Are they stuck on Trenzalore, now?


  110. Jason
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Once the Doctor reads the final page of Amy's book, he knows he never saw them again.

    No. Once he reads the final page of Amy's book, he knows that, if the book is accurate, he never sees them again. But what he doesn't know is whether he went back in time, gives Amy the book, says "write this up and put it in an envelope to be published in x years time", and then takes her home.

    It's really no different than what Moff did with the Impossible Astronaut/Wedding of River Song. Everyone thinks they know that the Doctor died, but what they really know is that someone or something who looks like the Doctor did something that looked like dying.


  111. Jason
    May 19, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    I think the whole thing is unresolved. After all, the Doctor and Clara are stuck in a collapsing timeline, and (if I'm reading visual cues right) we saw their shimmery blue exit close. I'm gambling it's this particular cliffhanger resolve that gets 11, Clara, and Hurt into a story alongside 10 and Rose for the November special.


  112. Alan
    May 19, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    Yeah, the big problem with TWoRS is that is shows how you can even change a fixed point in time if you can successfully trick most of the universe into think that time happened the way it should have. It seems to me that all you really need to rescue Amy and Rory is put up a couple of tombstones and get a book published. Hell, the Doctor could do it himself; he's certainly experienced at tricking younger versions of himself with false information.


  113. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    Can someone explain to me why the one-word game was brilliant?

    I mean, the answer feels clever, but all I understand from it is that the nature of the emergency happens to coincide with the name of the person the Doctor is brooding over. The setup itself seemed just an elaborate contrivance to allow that moment to happen, a sort of narrative Rube Goldberg machine.

    I did like it better than all the other Christmas specials so far, though, and it was at least better than most of the rest of the season.


  114. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

    Someone really ought to get around to Tempering that Schism.

    Also: in order to break a promise, such as that implied by taking the name "The Doctor," one must first make the promise. Was he a Doctor once and lost the right (in his own mind) to bear the title?

    The comment about bodies being unimportant was interesting too. It's not the forms that have held the title, it's the ones that deserved it.


  115. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

    To be fair, Wikipedia seems to think "The Three Doctors" was rebroadcast in 1981, so Omega was potentially more recently familiar than the Black Guardian.

    And when I saw "Attack of the Cybermen" as a kid, I definitely hadn't seen any of the 60s episodes it supposedly depends on.

    That doesn't make either of them great Doctor Who even in my book, but I truly think their references to continuity are the least of their flaws.


  116. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

    Well, having a cage of rats strapped to his face ought to teach him a lesson.


  117. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    Wasn't she named Melody Pond?

    Anyway, I think these sorts of clever-clever headaches are among the reasons the classic show was wise to be sparing with using the time machine as a surgical instrument for getting things done as opposed to a means of traveling between genres. I like what Moffat's done with it, but a little goes a long way.


  118. encyclops
    May 19, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

    I'm trying to imagine what they would have done with Eccleston instead. The special is clearly going to be about "what it means to be The Doctor," i.e. what the promise of that name is supposed to include and forbid, which is not only a meaty and worthwhile topic if you're not going to do a romp, but perhaps the best possible choice for a 50th anniversary theme. I can't imagine Eccleston or McGann being stripped of the title somehow, and while we'd all have preferred to see one of them (at least before we knew which way this was going), it's hard to imagine revealing them at the end of this episode with anything like the same impact of "who's this total stranger?" So if it was rethought, seems like it was pretty extensively rethought.

    He told the P.G. that the TARDIS would take them home on Fast Return if he wasn't back in X hours. So they're not stuck, but they're probably still waiting at "this" moment.


  119. Bennett
    May 19, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

    Well, here's why I find the one-word game brilliant.

    First, I wholeheartedly believe in the concept that "Lies are words, words, words." (if in doubt, watch any news bulletin).

    Secondly, it fillets the exposition required, as it allows Vastra to dispense all the necessary information to Clara without lengthy interruptions.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it gives Clara a chance to demonstrate her ingenuity and narrative strength, which is significant considering that this is essentially a Companion selection test. (My favourite exchange: "Do you understand what I'm telling you?" "Words.")

    Of course, her final answer has a second meaning that she could not possibly be aware of – but this isn't simply dumb luck. Clara's choice of word is both counterintuitive and considered. It isn't a plea or a rationale, but a piece of information and an invitation to The Doctor's curiosity. It's no wonder that he's handing her a TARDIS key within fifteen minutes.

    I agree that it's an elaborate contrivance, but note that Google defines 'contrivance' as "A thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose".

    But if I had to say this all in one word…ummm…multifunctionality? (See..the game is much harder than it looks)


  120. Reinder Dijkhuis
    May 20, 2013 @ 2:44 am

    This review of the whole current series focusing on sexism is probably the most brutal thing I've read about Moffat as a show-runner that I've read since… well, actually since that tumblr post where an 11-year-old pointed out all the faults in Asylum of the Daleks.


  121. Anton B
    May 20, 2013 @ 4:14 am

    I hate nitpicking but surely the fast return switch will take them back to Clara's irritating kids' house and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Having said that, that particular piece of Gallifreyan equipment doesn't have a particularly good track record does it? Let's hope the spring doesn't get stuck otherwise Jenny might start attacking them with scissors while the clocks melt. Possibly.


  122. doublethreatmagee
    May 20, 2013 @ 5:45 am

    It was from The Invasion of Time – the Fourth Doctor's greatest adventure.


  123. Sean Cunningham
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:47 am

    "I like the charts, just because they provide a medial background that is almost inescapable. One can avoid seeing plenty of #1 movies, but it's tricky not to know at least one song from the top ten of a week you were alive just because you get assaulted with them in shops and restaurants."

    Not in London, at least. The music culture is too diverse. If you don't drive you probably don't listen to radio. Online streaming music and podcast compilations were getting to be a thing about this time, so you could disappear into whatever niche of music you liked. At the time there were no American-style shopping malls in London, just high streets, so no piped-in music. Shops themselves specialise their music depending on what kind of customers they want to attract, or just whatever the shopkeepers like. I've gone to barbers and heard everything from (and I apologise for not knowing the name of it) that male Arabic yodelling music to trashy Euro-dance, depending on who was on shift that day.

    Movie posters on buses, on the other hand, are much harder to miss.

    You must be pretty close to X-Factor having an influence on and being influenced by British and international charts too. That became a big part of how people experienced music here.

    But that's my specific London experience and London is very much its own thing, or its own huge multitude of things.


  124. Sean Cunningham
    May 20, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    Ah God, I've just remembered. You know what else you're missing from the music of the time?



  125. encyclops
    May 20, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    Aw, Artie's a perfect sweetheart. Angie will be too once she outgrows her teenage years. I hate kids as much as anyone else but I'd put up with them in a second if it meant reliable indoor plumbing.

    Imagine Vastra, Strax, and Jenny as Ian, Barbara, and Susan! I'll let you decide who's who.


  126. Anton B
    May 20, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    I had Vastra as Barbara, Strax as Ian and Jenny as Susan but the other potential variations in a remake of The Edge of Destruction had me laughing in Chronic Hysteresis.

    No I like kids, (I teach for a living so I have to) but those kids are REALLY horrible. Artie is a 35 year old trapped in a child's body and Angie is unspeakably snarky and hideous to everyone even when it's not called for in the script, her acting mode is set permanantly on 1990's soap adolescent. I seriously have to look away when they're on screen. I'm telling you Moffat missed a 50th anniversary fanboy shout-out by not making them John and Gillian. Still if anyone wants to adapt Colfer's 'A Big Hand for The Doctor' there's your supporting cast right there.


  127. jimf
    September 8, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    Regarding "The Tomorrow People," producer Greg Berlanti, who's had a pretty varied and mostly successful track record ("Everwood","Arrow","Political Animals") and was a huge fan of the original series, is gay. He has said "breaking out" is like "coming out," so the gay parallel will be there. I am also glad the fact that Tomorrow People can't kill will be part of the show. This is going to be good! Berlanti is also one of the writers/producers of "Arrow," where John Barrowman and Alex Kingston have had roles, and he has said in an interview that the original Tomorrow People was kind of meant as a "kids' Doctor Who," so I suspect he has some Doctor Who fandom in him as well. I get RTD-level vibes of passion from him.


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